I believe us humans learn how to behave, and a certain amount of our moral compass from stories, either family stories, books, tv – think Friends, songs, film etc.
So by sticking our male children from 10-20+ in front of a story that is or similar to Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty for hours and days at a time (unlike a single story book) what can we expect from them as adults. It amazes me they can function in the real world at all after almost total submersion with their peers into a world of sex, violence and narcissism.
I’m not saying they will all be serial killers but their out- look on the every day minutae of life will be framed by the stories they have been submerged in. Expectations of relationships and how to treat women, the ability to just restart if something goes wrong. How to treat fellow humans that get in your way. It scares me.
People started asking why his name wasn’t on the Christmas card. He hadn’t wanted anyone to know, so this was the first most people had heard of the break up.
She was invited to a New Year’s Eve wedding. He had the kids so she was going alone to the evening do. She realised as she got dressed in her new slimline figure that she was free. She could wear what she wanted and say what she liked and behave in anyway for the first time in 25 years. As she dressed she reflected that before he would tell her what to wear and and while she put her makeup on he would be telling her what she should say. She would drive so he could drink. This time her friend had offered her a couch.
She wore a tight black satin dress with dark makeup to hide the tear stains and new gauntness, as she walked into the party she felt the men looking at her. She saw their eagerness when she said she was newly single. To someone so fragile the flattery was completely seductive, a lad 10 years younger than her gave her plenty of attention but she had been warned he was a philanderer. She didn’t care, it’s not like she wanted anything serious, and heck he was fit and charming whilst her ex was a fat bolding accountant. As Big Ben hit 12 they only had eyes for each other and a passionate embrace and swapped numbers as he left.
The party carried on and I could pretend the next didn’t happen but it did. A spliff went round an already drunk set of stragglers. This was new to her but life was being reinvented and when you get that low you are free to try anything. She was off her head, someone started kissing her and she responded. He walked her to a barn and there was a fumble but even in her state of intoxication she managed to say no and it went no further than a bit of a grope. She left and sat for most of the rest of the night talking to a lovely lady beside a fire pit.
In the morning she could not recall his face and don’t think she ever knew his name, not even embarrassed she was so full of self hate she didn’t care.
Its Christmas Day he asked to come for the day to be with his kids.
She cooked for them all and in her head this was the deadline if he hadn’t decided by now she had to. He’d had plenty of time to think and if a family Christmas couldn’t persuade him to come back what would?
After lunch the kids were playing and he wanted to talk. She asked if he was dating and he said yes. Shock. Oh – Have you slept with anyone else? – they had been childhood sweethearts and as far as she knew had never had anyone else – he blushed and said of course that’s what dating is about these days.
Her world was crushed again and something died in her that moment.
He asked if he could come back for Boxing Day. She said no.
Over the next few months the bottom fell out of her world, she spent most of the day’s crying.
Her sons 14th birthday was in 10 days and she had arranged a go-carting party for him. He said he was coming too, she spent so much energy gathering herself for the torture of that day.
She fantasised that he would see what a happy family they were and turn around and say sorry, he’d been an idiot let’s make up. But nothing happened.
She asked if there was another woman, he said no. Another wave of days over took her. It was a month till Christmas. She booked some counselling with relate but it wasn’t till new year. She found a lawyer. She worked on the house renovation she was doing. The plan had been to move in the new year and she focused on that. By Christmas she had lost two stone in weight without trying.
Her friends were supportive and she had her first night out as a single mum just before Christmas. With her weight loss and devil may care attitude she danced the night away. Some bloke took a fancy to her and danced with her, oh she was so flattered, after her complete rejection that she thought what the heck and when he tried to kiss her she didn’t say no. Wow it felt amazing to be desired again, but when a friend pointed out he had a wedding ring on she was mortified and ran away.
She sent out the Christmas cards without his name on and her new address, the first most friends knew of it, as he hadn’t wanted anyone to know.
It might seem strange after such a short conversation to know it was over but she did. She told the kids dad had gone on another work trip, the kids were not phased he was always doing that. She met a divorced girl friend in the supermarket car park after dropping the kids off who just held her. She asked if he was on drugs, had a brain tumor or another woman.
‘No no no he just doesn’t want me anymore.’
She googled what to do and decided that he had to decide if it was over and called him, he said it was but wanted some time to think about it. How long she asked? Six months he said, maybe more, she was thinking more like the weekend! She said if he needed that long he had to tell the kids. He agreed and came round in the evening and told the kids lies while she nodded.
‘It will be amicable’
‘I still love your mum’
‘There’s no one else’
‘If we split up everything will be divided equally’
‘I can’t do this any more’
‘If you feel like that you had better leave’.
‘You mean the spare bedroom or …’
‘No. Just go’.
He left, it was probably their third or fourth major argument in their twenty five year marriage and still no raised voices. With the gift of hindsight she realised the argument a couple of years before was when she knew it was over, he had explained that he was only staying for the children. She thought it was just a blip. Now she realised he couldn’t even do that. She still loved him. He had been out the night before like he often did these days and when he got home she had complained that he never wore his wedding ring. She cried all night and in the morning they had this four line conversation and it was over.
My last blog documented a mini melt down, but I’m calmer now and I see things clearer. My son is 18 and I have to let go, for want of a better way to say it I have to care less, I can’t change the the love I feel but he’s not my responsibility any more.
My partners son who has some learning difficulties fell off my off road sidecar yesterday and has a sprained ankle. When I say fell, it was more of a step, and today I have resolved to renew my campaign of ‘actions have consequences’ with him. My partner was driving and feels guilty but the truth is it’s the lads actions of stepping off that caused him pain. Because of his condition too much is let slide and other people suffer the consequences of his actions. This time he is. For example I have to clean up when he spills sugar all over the table at breakfast, when actually he is quite capable of cleaning up himself or taking more care in the first place. His condition isn’t black and white, just because he has a few problems doesn’t mean he can’t do anything and he needs to be taught by his parents that actions have consequences. But I too need to remember that my actions have consequences.
I watched a brilliant film (twice) recently called Bitter Lake, it attempts to explain the mess of Afghanistan and that area. It talks of how past politicians presented ‘the problem’ as black and white, good and evil. It seems to me a lot of war is cast in this light, whoever we are, whichever side we are on, we are sold a war, or reason to war as we are the good and they are evil. My divorce too became like that. I’m certain it was for my ex too, I’m sure I was demonised as much as he has been, this demonising enables us to act in a way that would previously have been unthinkable. We need to keep in mind that there are so many shades of grey in any conflict and it’s not so simple as black and white, good and evil.